Member Profile - Wes Dening

Where did you grow up in Australia? Brisbane. I grew up in Bridgeman Downs, fortunately on 2 ½ acres, with cattle dogs, chickens, motorbikes and two terrorizing younger brothers.

What brought you to the US? How long have you been here? How long do you plan to stay? I came to the U.S. eager to earn my chops in the U.S Television Industry. I packed up everything I owned in Australia and moved over here to pursue my passion for creating, producing and hosting quality and innovative television content. The Australian Television industry is fantastic, but for me at this stage in my career, I felt like I need to take a few more big risks to develop in all facets of the industry... and this is the time to do it. I now work with and have relationships with many of the world’s biggest networks and production companies. I arrived in NYC in April 2008 and will be here for, who knows.


My first memory of New York is….Traveling here with my family in 1999. I couldn’t believe the constant noise coming from our hotel room during the night. We were staying in a midtown hotel close to Times Square and the energy flowing through the streets was addictive. I also remember my Mum being super excited to go to Macy’s. Personally, I was more interested in trying a hot dog and pretzel off the street.


What is your current position/role? This year I’ve been a regular host for truTV’s The Smoking Gun Presents: World’s Dumbest. The show is on Thursday nights at 9pm on truTV. The show has been rating really well this year which is great and ranked #1 among all ad-supported cable networks in its time period.  I give commentary on dumb things people have done and caught on camera, be it daredevils, drivers, performers, lovers, tourists, criminals. Surprisingly (or perhaps not so) a lot of videos seem to be sourced from Australia?!


I’m also the host of StarQuest International Performing Arts. It’s a dance competition show that takes me to a different U.S. state each weekend. Dancers compete in solos, small and large groups in hip hop, contemporary, jazz, ballet and open categories. Winners from each state qualify to compete in the “world finals” later in the year. Some of the talent I’ve met across the country is mindboggling.

I also just finished a pilot with two of Australia’s biggest DJ’s. Hopefully more news on that to come soon.


What is the best part of your job? Hosting live in front of American audiences is invaluable experience and also such an eye-opener, especially when you leave NYC and LA to perform in small-towns and cities where the Australian accent is so mysterious. U.S. audiences love the ‘Aussie slang’ and are truly interested in Australian life and culture. After years of live hosting in Australia, it’s a real challenge to mix up my hosting style to suit new audiences.


Travel is another perk that I love. I’ve been able to travel most of the U.S. in the last couple of years. I’ve also been able to do shoots in the U.K. and Australia. All opportunities that I might not have had staying in Australia.


What are the challenges and advantages you face in your industry in the US? Accent is an obvious challenge. It can also be seen as an advantage. I believe that the best hosts on TV are successful because they are good at being ‘themselves’. While I can definitely slap around a pretty thick Australian accent, I’m certainly mindful of toning it down when I host in the U.S., be it on television or live audience. I’ve been working developing and using musles in the tongue that are more active in the U.S. accent than the Aussie accent to round off my speech.

Also the television industry is in an exciting and interesting stage. The traditional broadcast model is changing, budgets are a lot different, online and mobile content is continually proving its importance, and now 3-D is trying to kick in as well. While TV is far from dying, people are expecting to be able to watch their favorite shows wherever they are, whenever they want, meaning content producers ultimately have to think about utilizing all of these different media opportunities.


If you didn’t live in New York you’d live in….? I have a fascination with living in Valencia, Spain. I’d like to be close to the water, with a really nice little vegetable garden and lots of Spanish food and wine on hand.


What is the one thing you always show to visitors from home? I love taking guests to Crif Dogs in the East Village. They really are the best hot dogs in NYC, in my opinion. I was taken there by a good friend who was born here and I’ve never looked back. Plus travelers are always really impressed by the phone-booth inside the St Mark’s Place famous local, which leads to a secret cocktail bar.


New York streets are paved with dreams and…? Lots of pugs, French Bulldogs and other designer dogs. Bad smells is another thing that comes to mind.


Describe New York in three words…Knife. Fork. Bottle.


Is there anything you miss about Australia? I really miss the beach and going for a surf or wakeboarding with friends. I also love swimming and open water racing and wish it wasn’t so cold in the water, or murky?!

Do you plan to return to Australia? One day, definitely. I’d like to bring up kids in Australia who have the lifestyle lots of Aussies are fortunate enough to have growing up. I think it really is something we are so lucky to share. Still, in TV, you never know which way the wind might blow, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Category: member profile